Autumn Semester 2020 takes place in a mixed form of online and classroom teaching.
Please read the published information on the individual courses carefully.

Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

GESS Science in Perspective Information
Only the courses listed below will be recognized as "GESS Science in Perspective" courses.

Further below you will find courses under the category "Type B courses Reflections about subject specific methods and content" as well as the language courses.

During the Bachelor’s degree Students should acquire at least 6 ECTS and during the Master’s degree 2 ECTS.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
Type A: Enhancement of Reflection Competence
Suitable for all students.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
History
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
853-0726-00LHistory II: Global (Anti-Imperialism and Decolonisation, 1919-1975)W3 credits2VH. Fischer-Tiné
AbstractThe lecture will give an insight into the formation of anticolonial nationalist movements in Asia and Africa from the beginning of the 20th century onwards and discuss the various dimensions of dismantling of colonial empires.
ObjectiveThe lecture will give students an insight into the history of the non-European world, looking specifically into the political, economic, social and cultural transformation on the backgrounds of colonial penetration strategies and the resistance of anti-colonial movements. The aim is to show that societies in Asia and Africa are not just the product of colonial penetration or anti-colonial resistance, but that both aspects influenced the present political, economic, social and cultural perception of these parts of the world to a considerable extent. A nuanced knowledge of the long and arduous process of decolonisation is hence important to understand today's geopolitical constellation, still characterised by the struggle for a just post-imperial world order.
LiteratureJansen, J.C. und Osterhammel, J., Dekolonisation: Das Ende der Imperien, München 2013.
Prerequisites / NoticeA detailed syllabus will be available in due course at http://www.gmw.ethz.ch/en/teaching/lehrveranstaltungen.html
851-0105-01LCross-Cultural Competences Arab World Information
Does not take place this semester.
W3 credits2V
AbstractThis lecture will discuss important topics of the Arab culture involving different value systems, world-views, and paradigms pointing to possible areas of misunderstandings and conflict in an inter-cultural setting as well as approaches to deal with these issues.
ObjectiveThis lectures gives an insight into different areas of the Arab culture such as gender roles, significance of family and marriage, concepts of honor and hierarchy, the role of religion in everyday life, the concept of the evil eye, being guest or host, obligations in family and society, and others. The aim is to identify different value systems, world-views and paradigms that may cause problems in an cross-cultural setting as well as possible approaches to deal with these issues. Even though most of the topics concern the Arab region as whole, the lecture will focus on the Arab East (not the Maghreb), especially Egypt, Syria and the Gulf countries.
851-0812-07LHeureka V: Politics and Society in Discussion in Antiquity and TodayW2 credits2VC. Utzinger, M. Amann, B. Beer, A. Broger, F. Egli Utzinger, R. Harder
AbstractA Lecture Series on Ancient Greece and Rome and Their Impact on Later Periods
ObjectiveInsights into some important fields relating to politics and society in antiquity (forms of government, historical development, social context, meaning for the present).
ContentUnsere Kultur und wissenschaftliche Tradition haben eine lange Geschichte.
In der aktuellen Heureka-Reihe soll diese Kultur ausgehend von der Analyse der verschiedenen Staatsformen und der gesellschaftlichen Diskussionen beleuchtet werden. Insbesondere soll der Bezug zur heutigen Gegenwart mit ihren aktuellen staatspolitischen Fragen hergestellt und die Verwurzelung der modernen Diskussionen in der Antike aufgezeigt werden.
Dabei geht es auch um die enge Verflechtung wissenschaftlicher und technischer Entwicklungen und politischer Systeme: Die Entstehung der Demokratie im antiken Athen ging mit einer kulturellen und wissenschaftlichen Vorreiterrolle dieser Stadt einher. Die frühen Naturwissenschaften entwickelten sich parallel zur ersten Demokratie, wurden aber in der folgenden Krisenzeit von der Demokratie bedroht. Heutige Technik (z.B. facebook-Algorithmen) gefährdet umgekehrt die Demokratie.
Wie gehen wir damit um, dass in Diktaturen wissenschaftlich und ökonomisch identifizierte Handlungsfelder, wenn sie politisch anerkannt sind, sofort umgesetzt werden, wie sich aktuell an Chinas Massnahmen zur Verbesserung der Luftqualität zeigt? Naturwissenschaft steht immer im Wechselspiel mit den politischen Systemen und der gesellschaftlichen Matrix, in die sie eingebettet ist.
Veränderungen in der Staatsform können also nie isoliert betrachtet werden. Beispielsweise veränderten materialtechnische Entwicklungen im Heer mehrfach die Truppenzusammensetzung und bewirkten eine Machtverlagerung in der Politik und Gesellschaft.
Die Vorlesungsreihe gliedert sich in sechs thematische Module (1-6):
Sitzung 1-2 (Modul 1): Alle Macht dem Volk? Athenische und moderne Demokratie
Sitzung 3-4 (Modul 2): Fort mit dem König - die römische Republik
Sitzung 5-6 (Modul 3): Ein starker Mann muss her - die römische Kaiserzeit
Sitzung 7-8 (Modul 4): Im Zeichen des Kreuzes - der Aufstieg des Christentums
Sitzung 9-10 (Modul 5): Jetzt sprechen die Philosophen - antike und moderne Staatsutopien
Sitzung 11-12 (Modul 6): Die Macht der Bilder - Bilder der Macht
Sitzung 13: Lernzielkontrolle
052-0806-00LHistory and Theory of Architecture IV Information W2 credits2VL. Stalder
AbstractThe two-semester course offers an introduction to the history and theory of architecture from the industrial revolution up to now. Based on current questions a variety of case studies will be discussed.
ObjectiveThe aim is to give an overview on crucial events, works of art, buildings and theories since the beginning of the 19th century up to now. The course should enhance the comprehension of historical and theoretical issues, and allow the students to localize their own practice within a broader historical context.
ContentThe subject of this lecture course is the history and theory of architecture since the beginning of the 19th century up to now. It examines the architectural answers to the changing technical inventions and social practices. Consequently, the focus will be less on individual architects or buildings than on various themes that determined the architecture of the period.
Lecture noteshttp://www.stalder.arch.ethz.ch/courses
851-0101-59LScience and Masculinities Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SB. Schär
AbstractMen have always been over-represented in the sciences. Why is this so? This seminar inquires how male supremacy in science evolved and transformed historically in different places around the world. How was and is science linked to particular images of manliness? How did and do women and non-conforming men around the world nonetheless succeed in doing science?
ObjectiveStudents will become familiarized with the history of science from the perspective of gender history. Gender Historians understand male dominance in science not as natural phenomenon, but rather as feature in need of historical inquiry and explanation.
The aim of this seminar is therefore to examine different ways historians analyse and explain historical and ongoing male overrepresentation in the sciences. By reading case studies from different parts of the world, students will be able to evaluate firstly how male overrepresentation was and remains linked to legacies of western and middle-class dominance in science. Secondly, they will also explore how women and non-conforming men nevertheless succeed(ed) in science at different historical points in time.
Students will have the opportunity to select a topic from the ETH Zurich's gendered history and write an essay on how masculinity and gender operate(d)s in our university.
ContentThis seminar treats male overrepresentation in the sciences as a phenomenon in need of historical explanation. Reading case studies from around the world, students will be able to asses how male overrepresentation was and remains linked with legacies of western and middle-class dominance in the sciences. Student will analyze aspects of this history in the case of ETH Zurich in a term paper.
851-0125-65LA Sampler of Histories and Philosophies of Mathematics
Particularly suitable for students D-CHAB, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MATH, D-PHYS
W3 credits2VR. Wagner
AbstractThis course will review several case studies from the ancient, medieval and modern history of mathematics. The case studies will be analyzed from various philosophical perspectives, while situating them in their historical and cultural contexts.
ObjectiveThe course aims are:
1. To introduce students to the historicity of mathematics
2. To make sense of mathematical practices that appear unreasonable from a contemporary point of view
3. To develop critical reflection concerning the nature of mathematical objects
4. To introduce various theoretical approaches to the philosophy and history of mathematics
5. To open the students' horizons to the plurality of mathematical cultures and practices
851-0004-00LErrors, Deception, Lies and Similar PhenomenonsW3 credits2VM. Hampe, H. Fischer-Tiné, D. Gugerli, M. Hagner, A. Kilcher, R. Wagner, U. J. Wenzel
AbstractErrors, deceptions and lies are phenomena, which are part of science, its application and interpretation. This lecture-course of the lecturers of Knowledge-section of DGESS discusses these phenomena in different scientific disciplines, and different times and in different political contexts.
ObjectiveAcquiring knowledge about the structure and history of epistemic blunders in different scientific disciplines.
ContentErrors, deceptions and lies are phenomena, which are part of science, its application and interpretation. This lecture-course of the lecturers of the Knowledge-section of DGESS discusses these phenomena in different scientific disciplines, and different times and in different political contexts.
851-0107-00LScience and the Public: A Problem of Mediation that the Media Have to Solve? Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SU. J. Wenzel
AbstractWhat can, what should, what do "laymen" want to know and understand from scientific findings? How and what is "conveyed" in reporting on science? Does science journalism have to follow scientific criteria? How do the natural sciences differ from the humanities and social sciences in terms of "comprehensibility" and public visibility?
ObjectiveGaining insights into the relationship between the sciences, the public and the media, into their historical development and current problems - with particular reference to the "Wissenschaftsfeuilleton".
ContentThe feuilleton of the «Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung» of 27 June 2000 has gone down in the annals of recent media history. The last sequences of the fully mapped human genetic code were printed on six large-format pages: the letters A, G, C and T in various combinations and sequences - a «readable » but incomprehensible jumble of letters. What at the time was astounding journalistic coup and met with enthusiasm as well as head shaking can (also) be read as an allegory of the tense relationship between science and the public. What can, what should, what do «laymen» want to know and understand from scientific findings? What role do the media play, does science journalism play in this? How and what is «conveyed» in reporting on scientific findings? And does science journalism have to follow scientific criteria in such reporting? How do the natural sciences, medicine and technology differ from the humanities and social sciences in terms of «comprehensibility» and public awareness? Are we really dealing with two diverging «science cultures» - and two different ways of presenting them in the media?
These questions will be explored on some excursions into recent and also older media, scientific and cultural history.
851-0006-00LWater in the Early Modern Period: A Material and Environmental History Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2ST. Asmussen
AbstractThe seminar deals with questions of how water was perceived, used and appropriated in medieval and early modern societies. We examine water as a livelihood (drinking water, irrigation resource), energy source, transport medium, infrastructure and threat between 1400 and 1800.
ObjectiveThe students acquire historical knowledge of how pre-modern societies appropriated the natural substance water and how they themselves were formed and changed by the interactions with the liquid element. Students are expected to read original German, French and English sources.
ContentThe seminar examines the history of the substance and uses of water from the late Middle Ages to the 18th century. Using text and image sources, we will examine the physical, cultural, economic and scientific-technical implications of the relationship between man and water in plenary sessions and groups.
We deal with (al-)chemical analyses of water in the context of medical treatises and spas, the expansion and challenges of the water infrastructure ( fountains, sewage canals, irrigation canals, inland waterways), the associated changes of landscapes as well as with water as a threat (floods).
851-0109-00LPublic Images of ScienceW3 credits2VM. Bucchi
AbstractThe course will analize in a historical and sociological approach the public images of science and scientists and their major changes.
ObjectiveIn particular, we will explore the following subjects: the role of the visual element in the communication of science and its public representation; the role of ‘visible scientists’, with particular consideration of Nobel Prize winners; events and affairs that have shaped the public perception of science and the relationship between science and society.
ContentThe course will analize in a historical and sociological approach the public images of science and scientists and their major changes.
In particular, we will explore the following subjects: the role of the visual element in the communication of science and its public representation; the role of ‘visible scientists’, with particular consideration of Nobel Prize winners; events and affairs that have shaped the public perception of science and the relationship between science and society.
Various examples will be quoted and discussed, and will illustrate the Italian science and its relationship to society and to the various cultural fields (literature, visual arts, gastronomy), with particular reference to the period from the second half of the 19th century until the end of the 20th century.
851-0521-00LComputer History. An IntroductionW3 credits2VD. Gugerli
AbstractThe lecture will explore the question of how the world got into the computer. The history of this great move in the second half of the 20th century is told by focusing on bottlenecks, the overcoming of which has created new difficulties.
ObjectiveThe students learn to understand the effects of techno-historical narratives and arguments.
Lecture notesThe exact programme will be presented at the beginning of the semester.
851-0522-00LDigital Statehood (1960-2000). Imaginaries, Experiences, Trading Zones Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
W3 credits2S
AbstractThe seminar addresses the expectations, experiences and negotiations in which digital processes, legal regulations and administrative routines are to be harmonized in the Swiss Federal Administration (1960-2000).
ObjectiveStudents should understand the interactions between technological processes, legal regulations and bureaucratic routines. In addition to reading research literature and conceptual work, the main focus is on studying relevant sources.
ContentSince the late 1950s, public administrations have been using computers to perform their tasks. Focusing on the use of computers in the Swiss federal administration, the seminar aims to identify how digital processes, legal regulations and administrative routines should be reconciled in public administrations. On the basis of IT projects of the Swiss Federal Administration, it will be investigated how computers were made usable and which options for action were opened up to the computer-supported federal state as a result. Last but not least, we want to ask how a (computer-) history of digital statehood can be written.
851-0110-00LThe Frontier in LiteratureW3 credits2VM. Énard
AbstractIn this course, I will develop a reflexion around borders, limits, and frontiers in literature.
ObjectiveWe will focus on subjects such as bilingualism, multilingualism, and the representation of the
front in the literature of war.
ContentIn this course, I will develop a reflexion around borders, limits, and frontiers in literature. We will focus on subjects such as bilingualism, multilingualism, and the representation of the front in the literature of war. The teaching language is French, however, by definition, to be
interested in such subjects, implies also the exploration of texts and/or linguistic domains
outside of 'Francophonie'.
851-0326-00LNationalism and Postnationalism in Modern Judaism: Historical Developments and Current Debates Restricted registration - show details W2 credits1SC. Wiese
AbstractSince the emergence of the Zionist movement in the 19th century multiple interpretations of the concept of nation and nationalism within Judaism have been discussed. The course introduces these debates and discusses the continuing historical and political discourse on Zionism, Post-Zionism and postnationalism.
Objective1. To deepen the knowledge about inner-Jewish political debates about the goals and the nature of Jewish nationalism as well as alternative self-conceptions.
2. To gain insights into the polyphony of historical and political discourse.
3. To strengthen the ability to understand historical and contemporary texts within the political context of the respective time period.
851-0100-00LWhat Is Truth? Philosophical Conceptions of a Crucial NotionW3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractTruths are strange entities. (1) they depend on us. For it is a sentence or a belief of human creatures which can be true or false. (2)Truths are nothing like a modeling clay in our hands. It’s not up to us whether our beliefs are true or false. How do (1)and(2) go together? In dealing with this question we will investigate the relation between the concepts of truth, facts, and objectivity.(396Z.)
ObjectiveThe attentive participant will probably achieve the following:

1. an acquaintance with influential philosophical answers to the question how to understand the concept of truth ( as correspondence between belief and fact; as coherence between beliefs and experiences; as that belief, that survives all challenges);

2. a deeper understanding of the relation between truth and facts;

3. a knowledge of arguments backing the thesis that objectivity, understood as an attitude of X, needs an aiming of X at truths without commiting X to the claim that one is infallible like the catholic pope.

Perhaps (dependent on available time):

4. overcomig the prejudice that we have facts and truth on the one side, and merely valuations and subjective standpoints on the other side.
Literature1. Thomas Grundmann, Philosophische Wahrheitstheorien, Stuttgart: Reclam 2019.

2. Bertrand Russell, Problems of Philosophy, Buffallo: Prometheus Books 1988, ch. 12: „Truth and Falsehood“.

3. Bede Rundle, Facts, London: Duckworth 1993, ch. 1: „Facts“.

4. Oliver Schlaudt, Was ist empirische Wahrheit?, Frankfurt/M.: Klostermann 2014, Kap. 6: „Wahrheit und Praxis“.

5. Frank Hoffmann, Die Metaphysik der Tatsachen, Paderborn: Mentis 2008, Kap. 1: Wahrheit; Kap. 5: Tatsachen.

6. Richard Evans, Facts in History, in: ders., In Defence of History, London: Granta Books 1997.

7. Crispin Wright, , Truth: A Traditional Debate Revisited, in: Smon Blackburn/Keith Simmons (eds.), Truth, Oxford 1999.

8. John Dupré, Tatsachen und Werte, in: Gerhard Schurz/Martin Carrier(Hg.), Werte in den Wissenschaften, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2013.
851-0003-00LScience and Food in the Development of the Modern World (1890s–1970s) Restricted registration - show details W2 credits1SS. G. Sujeet George
AbstractThis seminar course aims to offer a historical perspective on the development of modern food systems, agrarian science and global cultures of taste and eating.
ObjectiveTo understand the links between science and modern food cultures; evaluate the global connections in the formation of national cuisines; analyze how science and the food industry have shaped people’s ideas of taste, nutrition and aesthetics.
ContentLooking at specific food and non-food commodities cultivated, developed and consumed across different regions in the world through the late 19th and 20th centuries, the course shall try to make sense of the aesthetic, economic and scientific assumptions inherent within the varied food palettes of our modern world. The course shall introduce students to the interlinked and overlapping histories of the development of modern agricultural science, the political economy of food production, distribution and consumption, and ideas of culinary aesthetics and national cuisines.

Students shall engage with the histories and debates around agricultural research, ideas of nutrition and hunger, questions of race, diversity and community belonging, and the troubled narratives of environment and sustainability in industrial agriculture. The course will utilize a combination of historical pamphlets and advertisements, newspaper accounts, as well as contemporary documentary films to engage with some of the core questions around the modern history of food cultures and agrarian science.
701-0791-00LEnvironmental History - Introduction and Overview Restricted registration - show details
Change of semester: takes place in spring semester instead of autumn semester.

Number of participants limited to 100.
W2 credits2VM. Gisler
AbstractOur society faces a serious ecological crisis. Of what historical dimension is this crisis? How have human societies already in earlier times changed their environment, and, consequently, perhaps also ours? What were the main ecological challenges for societies and how did they change over time? And how did societies adapt to changing environmental conditions?
ObjectiveIntroduction into environmental history; survey of long-term development of human-nature-interrelations; discussion of selected problems. Improved ability to assess current problems from a historical perspective and to critically interrogate one's own standpoint.
Lecture notesCourse material is provided in digital form.
LiteratureMcNeill, John R. 2000. Something new under the sun: An environmental history of the twentieth-century world, New York: Norton.

Uekötter, Frank (Ed.) 2010. The turning points of environmental history, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Winiwarter, Verena und Martin Knoll 2007. Umweltgeschichte: Eine Einführung, Köln: Böhlau.
Prerequisites / NoticeStudents are asked to write an exam during the last session
Literature
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
851-0315-01LWriting: Precision of Language as a Field of Research for Literature Restricted registration - show details W1 credit1GF. Kretzen
AbstractWhen we write a literary text we enter into a set-up for experiments and explore the possibilities ensuing from the specific structure and consistency of such a text. Literary writing allows us to go over to another kind of knowledge. Thus, the question: what is it that I want to write about? is replaced by: what do I write?
ObjectiveIn this course we shall analyze and apply conditions and criteria for literary writing on the basis of our own texts.
The course is intended for persons who are interested in literary approaches to exactitude.
Any attempt to write literature is confronted with an unforeseeable linguistic dynamism whose feasibility is determined by laws and rules quite different from those of science and technology. For the science-oriented writer, experiencing the self-evidence produced by literary approaches in his or her own writing project opens up a field of language with new content and new methods.
ContentIn the natural sciences as well as in engineering we set up experiments, analyze equation systems, and formulate theories. In order to complement these practices, the course «Writing» shall pursue precision in literary writing, its choice of word and its self-evidence.

When we write a literary text we also enter into a set-up for experiments and explore the possibilities ensuing from the specific structure and overall consistency of such a text. This form of writing takes us from the question: what is it that I want to write about? to the question: what do I write?
How do such literary approaches differ from the ways in which the natural sciences use language?
In this course we shall analyze and apply conditions and criteria for literary writing on the basis of our own texts.
The course is intended for persons who are interested in literary approaches to exactitude.
Any attempt to write literature is confronted with an unforeseeable linguistic dynamism whose feasibility is determined by laws and rules quite different from those of science and technology. For the science-oriented writer, experiencing the self-evidence produced by literary approaches in his or her own writing project opens up a field of language with new content and new methods.
Prerequisites / NoticeThose wishing to participate are required to send in between two and three pages text of their own writing that will be discussed in class. It may be an existing text , such as an essay yet from school or a post for a student magazine. The next step will be writing a text on a preset topic as a basis for discussing the various realizations of a given task.
851-0109-00LPublic Images of ScienceW3 credits2VM. Bucchi
AbstractThe course will analize in a historical and sociological approach the public images of science and scientists and their major changes.
ObjectiveIn particular, we will explore the following subjects: the role of the visual element in the communication of science and its public representation; the role of ‘visible scientists’, with particular consideration of Nobel Prize winners; events and affairs that have shaped the public perception of science and the relationship between science and society.
ContentThe course will analize in a historical and sociological approach the public images of science and scientists and their major changes.
In particular, we will explore the following subjects: the role of the visual element in the communication of science and its public representation; the role of ‘visible scientists’, with particular consideration of Nobel Prize winners; events and affairs that have shaped the public perception of science and the relationship between science and society.
Various examples will be quoted and discussed, and will illustrate the Italian science and its relationship to society and to the various cultural fields (literature, visual arts, gastronomy), with particular reference to the period from the second half of the 19th century until the end of the 20th century.
851-0299-00LLiterature, Art and Politics in Fin-de-siècle Paris, Vienna, Prague, and BerlinW3 credits2VS. S. Leuenberger
AbstractLiterature and art in 1900 were characterised by the conflict between the perception of decline and the hope of renewal. Analysis of literary, philosophical and critical theory texts illustrates that some authors were not merely passive observers of the crisis, they also experienced it first-hand in their writing. This crisis subsequently became the model for a new form of linguistics.
ObjectiveThe lecture is part of the ‘Science in Perspective’ course programme: students will learn about literature, art and philosophy at the turn of the 20th century with case studies featuring literary, epic, dramatic and discursive texts from around 1900 which are characterized by the conflict between the perception of decadence, decay and death on the one hand, and hope of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation on the other hand. Analysis of these texts illustrates that several authors not only observed the language crisis, the increasing awareness of the impossibility of representation through language, which was accompanied by a questioning of the self (I), but they also experienced it in their writing. This crisis subsequently became the model for a new form of linguistics. These literary forays, and indeed other ideological and political thinking and models of salvation and future at the time, including socialism, anarchy, psychoanalysis and Zionism will also be addressed in the lecture.
ContentThe reading list includes literary texts and discursive texts, amongst others, from Stéphane Mallarmé, Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Ernst Mach, Hermann Bahr, Richard Dehmel, Christian Morgenstern, Sigmund Freud, Bertha Pappenheim, Else Lasker-Schüler, Arthur Schnitzler, Theodor Herzl, Robert Walser and Thomas Mann.
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